Side Notes

on the

Family Vacation 2001

Just a few side notes to clarify the experiences from our Road Trip.

traditional English Breakfast

Breakfast.  Hmmm.  How to describe it.  Well, lets start with the obvious.  It includes: The Scots may add Haggis, but that is another story.  Some of the finer restaurants may offer your choice of this list of stuff, others just give you a plateful of tradition.  In all fairness - it isn't bad.  But there does not seem to be another option.  Pancakes, French Toast, Eggs Bennidict, or just some cereal.  Okay, cereal is available - kind of comes with the juice and toast.  But, the point is after 12 days, we was ready for some variety.


Haggis is a traditional food of Scotland.  Unlike Scotch Ale and Scotch Malt Whiskey, this favorite hasn't developed a following much outside the borders of Scotland.  Basically, it is the internal organs of a sheep (heart, liver, etc.) ground up and cooked with some spices in a sheep's stomach.  It is served like hash.  Sometimes it is molded into little patties.  It has an earthy aroma and taste.  If you are fond of liver & onions, this could be just the treat you are looking for.  Personally, I recommend some of the other bounty Scotland has to offer.

Odd but True

Speaking of Chocolate, here is a odd coincedence.  'Toblerone' was made by a Mr. Tobler in triangular shapes to suggest the Swiss mountains.  It was given a Swiss patent authorised by Albert Einstein, who happened to be working in the patent office at the time.

Driving the city streets

Oh!  I need to try and paint a picture of the driving experience.  In town, by and large the toughest driving experience, consists of narrow 2 lane roads.  People park their cars on both sides of the street.  There is not really any room for parking, so the cars tend to be half on the sidewalk and partially in the street.  This leaves just enough room for a single narrow car to pass through.  But remember, these are 2 way roads, they drive fairly quickly (like 40 mph) and there are lots of blind intersections.  Basically, if you have nerves of steel, no hesitation to barge forward into a foot path that passes for a road, and never look back - you will do fine.  A local did explain to me the lines in the road really don't have any meaning so you don't need to be bothered by the fact you usually are driving down the middle of the road.  Once we understood that, the driving started to get better.

Driving the country roads

The country roads are either "A" roads or "B" roads.  Presumably, the A roads are better than sheep paths, but you will see sheep on the roads.  Another characteristic is the narrow lanes. A lot of your time is usually spent trying to determine if  the passenger side should scrape the stone wall or the driver's side should collide with the oncoming traffic.  Another feature is the free (or is that liberal) use of passing - even in blind stretches of road. Diana did point out we saw no accidents, but there were some signs in western England (or was that Wales) that discussed trying to reduce the rate of 136 casualties in the past 3 years.

The "B" roads are less sophisticated.

Driving the round-abouts

Oh, and the round-a-bouts.  Kind of interesting, and by the end of the trip, we were doing quite well.  The key here is that shortly before the round-about there will be a big sign with a picture of the round-about.  It will show the number of entries (or is that exits) and a indication that what road and destination would be achieved if you took that path.  When you approach the round-about, you yield to oncoming traffic (remember to look RIGHT!).  The English say "Give Way" as opposed to "Yield", but you will figure that out very quickly as 20 tons of lorry comes at you.  One you are in the round-about, you have the right-of-way.  Each exit is marked with another smaller sign - sometimes using the same road and destinations marked on the previous big sign.  If you get lost, feel free to go around again.  But beware, like spinning around - it doesn't take too many spins before you can not tell even where you came in (much less where you want to get off).  The round-about is the typical junction of the country roads.

Driving the motorways

The motorways are identified by a "M" before a number.  Like M1.  The key here is speed.  In general, they resemble the Interstate Highways of the USA.  But, did I say they go fast?  Honest!  I was going 85 mph in the slow lane.  If I had been in the fast lane (or passing lane), the other cars would have come screaming up from behind, flash their lights, and tailgate until you move over.  And did I mention that during the week at least 1/3 of the traffic are huge semis - oh, excuse me, lorries.

Soho district in Greater London

Soho is the entertainment or theatre district of London.  It reminds you of Times Square of New York.  Lots of cinema, live theater, restaurants, etc.  A bit to the Northeast of Leicester Square underground station is several blocks of the seedier side of the entertainment district.  Women in doorways beconing you into their place for shows or even more intimate relations.  In general, hold onto your money.  Pick pockets are rampant here.  And the shows are scams - promising much more than you will ever see.  And be very careful of even a simple conversation could cost you hundreds of pounds.  But on the upside, Mark was propositioned by a street walker.  She was quite descriptive of cost and services rendered.  As Mark gets older, even a little attention will build his ego - even if she is only after his money.  But really, I suspect this was as much a scam as the rest of the businesses - I suspect her boyfriend would have been waiting to extract more money and minimize any services rendered.
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